Shipping Heavy Machinery Overseas: Roll-on/Roll-off Service

Shipping Heavy Machinery Overseas: Roll-on/Roll-off Service
Kitmondo 09 Dec 2018

Planning on shipping heavy equipment overseas? Are you considering which services and methods could be the best for your sold/purchased piece of heavy equipment? You might be interested in Roll-on / Roll-off (RORO) services which were created for the purpose of shipping all types of heavy machinery, from cars to trucks, trains to helicopters, and any type of heavy construction or agricultural machinery overseas. 

Roll-on/Roll-off shipping specification 

In the 19th century, RORO ships were used to transport trains. Bridges did not have the capacity during that time to sustain such large and heavy loads. Since then, RORO ships have undergone quite the journey of being modified and very specifically updated with changes to be able to provide the safest and most convenient transport of the largest and heaviest equipment. 

All specialists in this business surely know that Lift-on Lift-off ships (LOLO) use cranes to load and offload cargo. Heavy machinery refers to those special pieces of equipment that are not so easy to be lifted onto a ship with port cranes. In contrast with LOLO boats, RORO boats’ cargo is loaded and discharged by its own wheels, which allow cars and trucks to be loaded smoothly and quickly. For units that are not able to be loaded on their own, a special high-capacity platform vehicle helps them onboard.  

RORO ships storage ports look like floating parking lots, assuring easy and secure transportation from departure to the final destination. The cargo is placed under the deck and is therefore protected against adverse weather conditions and salt water.  

A detailed look into the specifications of RORO ships shows very strong body construction with dead weight of most commonly between 30,000 and 50,000 tons. The weight capacity ranges up to ten tons of pressure per square meter. Now it is more understandable why RORO ships are perfectly suitable for transporting heavy equipment overseas. 

Types of Roll-on Roll-off vessels 

The types of RORO vessels are divided according to capacity and types of cargo: 

Marc V 

The Marc V ship is known as the largest in the industry. This advanced shipping boat was designed to transport large and heavy cargo while lowering fuel consumption. Marc V is capable of transporting machinery from 7.1 meters high and 12 meters wide on its ramp with a loading capacity of 500 tons. 


Pure Car Truck ­Carriers were specially designed to carry cars and trucks overseas. The capacity of the ship is up to 8000 CEU (Car Equivalent Units), the ramp capacity is about 320 tons and the storage height is up to 6.5 meters. Besides the space designated for normal-sized cars, there is also a hoistable deck which allows for the transporting of bigger vehicles such as buses, trucks, bulldozers, tractors and other heavy construction and agricultural machinery. 


LCTC is an acronym for Large Car Truck ­Carrier and stands for a larger modification of PCTC. Its capacity is about 8,000 CEU with a ramp of the capacity of 320 tons and adeck height of 6.5 meters. 

Hybrids of RORO vessels  

Make the RORO service more complicates, let's introduce a variation that RORO vessels can have. Little modification of RORO vessels making the loading and transporting of heavy equipment smoother. 


The acronym stands for Roll on Roll Off Passengers. This special ship is designed to accommodate passengers along with their vehicles. Essentially, it's a regular RORO ship with about 500 spaces for accommodation.


ConRo is a combination of a RORO and a container ship. Simply said, this ship has storage for containers on the top of the space for the trucks, cars and other heavy equipment loaded as RORO.


It’s not that difficult to guess what does this acronym means. A Roll-on Lift-off vessel is a hybrid vessel with a Roll-on type in one port but only a Lift-off crane service on the second.

Why use Roll-on/Roll-off services 

If you are still hesitating whether to use RORO services for transporting that piece of heavy equipment of yours, we would like to introduce you to a couple of advantages that might be essential to know during your decision-making process. Here we go: 


As many pieces of machinery can be loaded on their own, it doesn't take much time to load and discharge cargo.  

RORO vessels are capable of moving speeds and have less delays than other types of cargo vessels, therefore, increasing the speed and efficiency of transportation for everyone.


As previously mentioned, the cargo is stored in the belly of the ship in order to avoid any damages or depreciation. 


RORO vessels and their modifications are build to hold the largest and heaviest cargo loads of any self-wheeled machinery. 

No size restriction 

As there is almost only one type of RORO cargo shipping, RORO has no size restriction rules, which is the point of using this method of shipping. RORO is the best way to transport large machinery overseas with no worries of damage.